Keeping Campylobacter out of the food chain

Campylobacter is a troublesome bug, responsible for more than three hundred thousand cases of food poisoning in England and Wales every single year. This substantial number of cases places pressure on the health service as well as meaning that people are too unwell to work, and it is thought that just this bacteria can cost the country as much as six hundred million pounds every year.

So, how can we reduce the number of cases? Prevention is the key of course, and it is, therefore, essential to respect food hygiene procedures when preparing food. Implementing certain measures can reduce the risk of contamination, while thorough cooking can also prevent the bug from making people unwell.

Scientists are now looking at another way to prevent Campylobacter from entering the human food chain. They are hoping to breed chickens that are resistant to bacterial colonisation in the first place. The bug is usually found in the gut of the bird, but some breeds are more resistant than others, so scientists are aiming to identify the gene responsible for this resistance.

Researchers have recently been awarded extra funding for this area, although, in the meantime, food safety training and the implementation of its principles are still the best way to prevent any outbreaks.